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Walk-in Tub

How to Make a Bathroom Safer for an Elderly Person

Last Updated on November 16, 2011

Many baby boomers are now facing decisions about the best way to care for aging parents. While most elderly people wish to stay in their homes, this possibility must be weighed against any safety issues involved. One of the most dangerous rooms in the home is the bathroom, where the majority of slips and falls occur. When an aging parent begins to show signs of needing help when sitting and rising, or if they have been diagnosed with balancing problems, it may be time to consider renovating the bathroom to make it safer for them.

Issues That Need to be Addressed

It is necessary to look at the current bathroom through the eyes of someone who may have joint stiffness, visual perception issues, muscle weakness, and unsteady balance. It is also wise to think ahead to a time when a wheelchair or walker might be needed. The following checklist provides a list of problem areas to be reviewed:

• Is the bathroom equipped with a walk-in tub or shower?

• Are there sturdy handrails beside the commode and bathing areas?

• Is there a seat in the shower or tub for resting?

• Does the shower or tub have a non-slip surface?

• Does the sink allow for wheel chair or walker access?

• Are the light switches and towel racks low enough to access from a seated position?

• Does the faucet have a thermostatic control to prevent scalding?

• Is the flooring completely level in the bathroom and of a type that will not become slippery when wet?

• Are there sharp edges that need to be smoothed or covered with edge guards?

Ways to Save Money

If many of these safety changes have to be made, it will take some time and money, but preventing a loved one from having a bad accident will make all of your efforts worthwhile. The following are ideas for renovating in some areas without straining the family budget:

• Consider reconditioned or second-hand items, but make sure they have been inspected for safety before purchasing.

• Put a list of your needs on Free Cycle in case someone needs to get rid of the very items you need.

• Peruse the sale bins at home improvement stores.

• Check for items at the local salvage store or thrift shop.

• Ask a local agency on aging if any community organizations do projects for the elderly, such as widening doors or installing electrical components.

Before beginning a bathroom renovation project for an elderly family member, it is a great idea to consult friends and co-workers who have completed such a project. They will be able to supply valuable information about the best brands to buy and the best businesses offering good deals. They may also share concerns about items that they wish they had included in the remodeling process. This information could prevent you from making costly mistakes in your own remodeling project.

Rachel Wilcox believes that bathroom adaptations are essential to enable people to continue living safely in their homes as they age. She also thinks adaptations in other areas of the home, such as stair lifts, can make a real difference to the lives of elderly people.

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